Category Archives: Competitions

Sam Walker and Waldo Win George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship

Sam Walker and Waldo. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL — March 22, 2019 — Sam Walker of Nobleton, ON piloted Missy Clark’s and North Run’s Waldo to the win in the 12th Annual George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship. Forty combinations of young equitation athletes and their mounts took to the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on the evening of Friday, March 22, at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Elli Yeager collected second place, Sophee Steckbeck was third, and Emma Fletcher rounded out the top four.

To qualify for the 12th Annual George H. Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship, each of the entries had to have previously won an equitation class during the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival circuit or during the 2018 Holidays & Horses circuit leading up to it. The competition was held in a three-round format with all participants contesting first-round course designed by Steve Stephens and Nick Granat. Only the top 15 were asked to return for the second phase in reverse order. Unlike a regular equitation class, the championship requires riders to turn off and hand in cell phones before its start and prohibits any interaction with trainers or staff. Riders were in charge of conducting their own course walk and schooling their own horses with the help of only one groom.

Ballard, Jayne, and Verswyvel Capture Spy Coast Farm Developing Jumper Series Classic Wins

Opening up Friday’s competition in the International Arena at the main grounds of PBIEC for the eleventh week of WEF, the Developing Jumper Series Classics, sponsored by Spy Coast Farm, offered top prize money and a chance to compete in the grand prix arena for up-and-coming equine show jumping stars.

There were 25 entries in the $20,000 Spy Coast Farm Seven-Year-Old Developing Jumper Series Classic, and 11 were clear to advance to the jump-off held at the end of the first round. Of those, seven were double clear. The fastest in the class was Maestro Vica v/d Ark, ridden by Erynn Ballard for owner Natalie Dean. They stopped the timers in 31.502 seconds for victory.

The $15,000 Spy Coast Farm Six-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic hosted 25 entries as well, with nine clear and only two finding the path to a double clear finish. The fastest of those in 38.434 seconds – faster by 5.5 seconds – was Charlie Jayne riding his father Alex Jayne’s Virginia ODF.

The $10,000 Spy Coast Farm 5-Year-Old Developing Jumper Classic had 17 entries and was held in an immediate jump-off format. Eight were clear in their first round and went straight into their jump-off, where four were able to go double clear. With a leading time of 34.667 seconds, Jorge Verswyvel rode his own Majesty to victory.

Luiz Francisco de Azevedo and Collin Are Comeback Kids in $36,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Classic

Brazil’s Luiz Francisco de Azevedo brought his horse Collin back from the brink of slaughter to lead the victory gallop of the $36,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Classic CSI 4* on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Friday, March 22.

Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr. set the single-round speed track for 42 starters with 12 jumping clear, leaving the clock to decide their placings. Azevedo and Collin, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Colandro x Amethist), broke the timers in 63.90 seconds for the victory.

Azevedo bested Mexican rider Santiago Lambre, who finished on a time of 64.96 seconds for second riding Dingeman. U.S. rider Hunter Holloway took third with a time of 65.96 seconds aboard VDL Bravo S for owner Hays Investment Corp. Francisco Jose Mesquita Musa took fourth in 66 seconds on Filou Imperio Egipcio, owned by Haras Imperio Egipcio/Equivarandas, LDA, while Canada’s Erynn Ballard rode Z Diamanty to round out the top five in 66.23 seconds for owners The Z Group, Javier Salvador Stables, and Diamante Atelier.

For full results, please visit pbiec.coth.com.

Oregon State, Ohio State, and Findlay Take Top Team Spots at IHSA Western Semi-Finals

The 2018 National Champion University of Findlay team. Photo courtesy of University of Findlay.

Fairfield, Conn. – March 20, 2019 – The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) held its Western Semi-Finals, sponsored by the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), March 16-17. Hosting the events were Florida State University (FSU) at the Florida Horse Park in Ocala, Florida, Utah State University (USU) at their facility at the USU Equine Center in Wellsville, Utah, and University of Findlay at their facility in Findlay, Ohio. IHSA is celebrating its 40th anniversary of the Western divisions this year.

Semi-Finals Hosted by Florida State University
At Semi-Finals hosted at Florida State University the team from the Ohio State University, coached by Ollie and Debbie Griffith, clinched the overall team win with 36 points edging out Berry College with 22. Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, took the third spot earning 16 points. In 2014, the Ohio State team won the national championship. All top-three teams are National Championship-bound.

“The horse show was really well run and the stars were aligned for us,” said Ollie Griffith. “Our riders were ready to go and things just worked out really well and we got paid to what we did. It was nice.”

Griffith said that Erin Bosse, a senior this year, has come really far in the program and contributed to team win by earning the blue ribbon in both the Team Open Horsemanship and Team Reining. Bosse also clinched the win in Individual Open Horsemanship. Second-place finisher Sarah Cooper, from Berry College, will join her to compete at Nationals along with Travis Fortune, from Murray State University, and Matthew Winter, from the University of Florida, who were third and fourth, respectively.

“The way we look at it, there are eight teams we need to try to be better than, and those are the eight that qualified, including the two that followed us,” Griffith said and about the upcoming Nationals in Syracuse. “Many years at Nationals, the teams that don’t win the Semi-Finals step up and play their game.”

In Individual Reining, the judges’ top pick was Ethan Stratford, from the University of Guelph. The second and third place prizes went to Mary Catherine Wade and Jenna Seal, both from Middle Tennessee State. Fourth-place Bosse will compete at IHSA Nationals in both Individual Reining and Open Horsemanship. Lynn Palm, from Ocala, Florida, and Allen Mitchels, from Michigan City, Indiana, officiated at the FSU-hosted event.

Semi-Finals at Utah State University
Utah State University hosted their first-ever Semi-Finals at their Equine Center and live-streamed the event for fans and families across the country. IHSA founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione participated in impressive opening ceremonies and was on hand to present prizes and greet coaches and riders. Judges Dawn Kreakie from Seville, Ohio and Lori Gordon of Washington, Pennsylvania presided over the event.

The overall Team championship went to the Oregon State University with the reserve championship to University of Wisconsin, River Falls. State University of New York at Morrisville finished third and punched their ticket to Syracuse.

“It was my fourth and final time going to Semi-Finals,” said Racheal Nordby, captain of the Oregon State University team. “It was awesome. I loved their opening ceremony.”

Nordby started as an Open rider and has competed on the team all four years and qualified for Nationals every year. After graduation, she plans to take a year then go on to get her master’s in clinical psychology. She credits her Oregon State coach Dawn Ross for her support through her years on the team.

“She is like a little angel from heaven,” Nordby said about Coach Ross. “She inspires us all to work harder as individuals and as a whole. She’s a very strong leader. She knows how to support us and how to challenge us.”

In the Individual Open Horsemanship at Utah State Semi-Finals, it was déjà vu for Rocky Mountain College’s Codi Uecker who won the for the second consecutive year. She will be joined by second-place finisher Danielle Paulson, from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, at Nationals. Third-place finisher Sarah Beth Felker, from St. Andrews University, and fourth, Christina Mulford, from Northern Kentucky University, will also make the trip to Syracuse.

Jacob Kamm, from the University of Cincinnati, grabbed the win in Individual Reining, with Aubrey Braham, from Slippery Rock University, in second, repeating her results from last year. Caitlyn Davis, from Utah State University, and Kindra Gingerich, from Saint Mary of the Woods College, were third and fourth.

Semi-Finals at University of Findlay
The 2018 IHSA Western National Champion Findlay Oilers hosted a third Semi-Final event. Carolyn Johnson Russell, from Ringgold, Georgia, and Pete McAllister, from Mitchell, Indiana, judged the event. The Findlay team finished in the lead on their home turf, winning five classes and earning 39 points. Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln finished in the second and third positions with 23 and 20 points, respectively, in the overall Team competition and will progress to the IHSA National Championships in Syracuse.

“We have a great team that is willing to put in the work – the long nights and early mornings,” said Spencer Zimmerman, head coach of the University of Findlay Western team. “They love being around the horses and the competition and they take their jobs seriously.”

Zimmerman is only in his second year in the position at Findlay and he will lead his team to Syracuse to defend their 2018 championship title.

“Three of our team riders are returning (to compete at Nationals) from last year,” Zimmerman said. “I look forward to seeing them in the pen. But I also look forward to seeing our new riders that haven’t been to Nationals. To take on that challenge, and coach them through those nerves is a lot of fun. I like to try and help them to overcome their obstacles to be successful.”

In the Individual Open Horsemanship division, Matthew Graves, from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, owned the day. Arianne Cox, of Texas Tech University, took second place, Kendall Woellmer, from West Texas A&M University, was third, and Carla Carfora, from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, was fourth.

Carfora brought her game to the hotly-contested Individual Reining division, finishing in front. Woellmer scored second. Julia Roshelli, from the University of Findlay, and Cailyn Simonis, of North Central Texas College, had the third and fourth slots to qualify for IHSA National Championship Horse Show in Syracuse.

For more information, go to IHSAinc.com or contact media@IHSAinc.com.

Swiss Look Strong as Final Line-Up Takes Shape

Martin Fuchs and Clooney. (FEI/Christophe Tanière)

America’s Madden chasing her third title

The numbers are in as the definite entries for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2019 were confirmed earlier this week, with 35 athletes from 18 countries set to line out when the edge-of-the-seat action gets underway at the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg (SWE) on 3 April. And while American superstar, Beezie Madden, returns to defend the title she claimed for the second time in her stellar career 12 months ago, she will face a mighty battle to hold on-form contenders from all around the globe at bay as she chases down her hat-trick.

This is the 41st finale to the prestigious series that began way back in 1978. Austria’s Hugo Simon and the brilliant Gladstone were the first champions when the inaugural Final was staged in Gothenburg a year later, and in 2019 the title-decider returns to the Swedish city for 15th time.

As always, it’s like something of a homecoming, and if there’s one man who would dearly love to become the very first Swedish winner it is world No. 12, Henrik von Eckermann, because he finished third with the brilliant Toveks Mary Lou in both 2017 and 2018 and right now the two of them are on fire.

The formidable partnership played a key role in Sweden’s team silver success at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) and have maintained form ever since. However, they’ll have to be at the very top of their game if they want to see off the challenge thrown down by the world individual silver and bronze medallists, Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat from Switzerland.

Fuchs’ performance with Clooney in Tryon was inspirational, and the grey wonder-horse showed just how tough he is when still fresh and strong on the final day.

As for Guerdat, he is a past-master of pressure riding as he has demonstrated on so many occasions. He already has two Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ titles with two different horses under his belt, and he posted the second of those two victories in the Scandinavium Arena three years ago. He’s completely at home in a pressure-cooker environment, and that’s exactly how it’s going to feel when he rides into the ring with Albfuehren’s Bianca, who finished eighth at the Omaha (USA) Final in 2017 and 10th in Paris (FRA) last time around.

There are other former champions also taking another crack at the title this year, and perhaps the most remarkable of all these is Ludger Beerbaum who provided the first-ever German victory with the legendary Ratina Z in Gothenburg in 1993. The German challenge is intimidating, with 2014 champion Daniel Deusser and 2011 winner Christian Ahlmann both armed with great horses after enjoying an impressive qualifying season. They finished first and second on the super-competitive Western European League table, with three wins boosting Deusser to pole position ahead of his compatriot who will be showing off his fabulous young stallion, Clintrexo Z.

Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have American roots. There will be eight lady riders competing this time around, but Madden has to be firm favourite, especially since the first of her two previous wins was recorded in the Scandinavium Arena.

The countries that will be represented at this year’s Final are Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, and USA. Each and every athlete will be hoping to realise the dream of holding the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ trophy in their hands as they take the top step of the podium on the final afternoon on 7 April.

Confirmed entries list here.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Patience Pays Off for Amanda Derbyshire with WEF Challenge Cup Win

Amanda Derbyshire and Luibanta BH. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – March 21, 2019 – Fresh off a win in Saturday night’s $134,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI 3*, Great Britain’s Amanda Derbyshire claimed another major victory on Thursday, March 21, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), this time topping the $72,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup CSI 4* aboard Luibanta BH.

In Thursday’s featured class, 69 entries tried their hand at the track, set in the International Ring of the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) showgrounds by Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr. Of those starters, 12 qualified for the jump-off round, and 10 elected to return to face off over the short course.

Derbyshire and her mount Luibanta BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horses, LLC, were the final combination to jump off, and when they entered the ring, the time to beat had been set at 42.72 seconds by the sixth entry to return, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs riding Chica BZ.

Christopher Payne and Fibonacci Jump to Top of High Performance Conformation Hunters

Christopher Payne and Fibonacci picked up another champion ribbon on Thursday for Week 11 of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival in the High Performance Conformation Hunters. Four of the best hunter professionals comprised the competitive class but ultimately Payne and Still Water Farm, LLC’s eight-year-old KWPN gelding (Carambole x Waomi) proved an unbeatable combination.

Fibonacci was awarded three first places and two seconds in the five division classes and was moved up in the rankings several times after the model. The gelding has only competed a total of five times over the 2019 circuit but has made an impression in the division having earned champion three times and reserve champion twice.

For full results, please visit pbiec.coth.com.

A Change in Venue Works in Erynn Ballard’s Favor in $6k Bainbridge 1.40m at WEF

Erynn Ballard and Ceitasi. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL — March 20, 2019 — The penultimate week of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) got off to a wet start on the morning of Wednesday, March 20, when Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Ilan Ferder’s Ceitasi took the win in the $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m class. Out of an original field of over 100 horse-and-rider combinations, only 86 entries elected to contest Olaf Petersen Jr.’s (GER) course after significant weather issues forced the class to be moved to the Global International Ring at Equestrian Village.

The Wednesday class at WEF was held in a one-round speed format due to the large volume of entries and 17 of the 86 came home fault-free. Tiffany Foster of Canada took the early lead aboard Artisan Farms, LLC’s Galino when she put in the first clear round with a time of 71.23 seconds; she ultimately ended in 14th place at the class’s completion. Harrie Smolders (NED) also went early in the class and shaved nine seconds off of Foster’s time to end on 62.598 seconds with Copernicus Stables, LLC’s 11-year-old KWPN mare (Oklund x Orrada), Corrada. The performance held strong and the pair finished in third place overall. Only several trips after Smolders, Chris Pratt (CAN) laid down a time of 62.49 seconds with Caron Stucky’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Larino x Paguera), Luigi, which was good enough to earn the second place finish.

Ballard was the first to return after the drag break with her second mount of the day, the nine-year-old Westphalian mare (Caratello B x Ceitas), Ceitasi, and crossed the timers in 58.55 seconds. After shaving four seconds off of the previous top time, it was clear the new combination was unbeatable.

For full results, please visit pbiec.coth.com.

Team New York and Team Palm Beach Win First Matches of 2019 Gladiator Polo Series

New York’s Pelon Escapite and Los Angeles’ Gringo Colombres vie for the ball. Photo Credit ©AlexPacheco.

Wellington, FL – March 16, 2019 – The first matches of the 2019 Gladiator Polo™ season kicked off in the U.S. Polo Assn. Coliseum at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), as the double-header saw Team New York face off with Team Los Angeles, followed by the later contest between Team Palm Beach and Team Dublin. Team New York prevailed over Team Los Angeles to a score of 15-14, while Team Palm Beach out-scored Team Dublin 12-8 in the six chukker matches.

Team New York (1-0), a heavy favorite in the four-week series, saw outstanding play from Pelon Escapite, Mike Azzarro, and alternate Jesse Bray, who was substituted in at game time due third round draft pick, Jason Crowder, sustained an injury that will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the season. The fast-paced and aggressive style of Escapite and Azzaro helped to lift Team New York to their first victory of the season in an evenly played match, which saw only a single goal differential as time expired in the final chukker.

“I scored the penalty shot in the sixth chukker, which made a big difference in the game. They had missed two of their penalties and they’re very good players on that team. We’re all getting familiar with each other and I think it was a great start to the season and there will be some very exciting matches to come in the coming weeks,” said Escapite.

Team Los Angeles (0-1) saw solid play from players Tomas Garbarini, Gringo Colombres, as well as Santi Toccalino, who earned the match’s MVP honors. Garbarini totaled two goals on the day, one registering as a two-point score, with the shot coming cleanly from beyond the 25-yard line. Columbres scored four two-point goals to help lift Team Los Angeles within reach of Team New York. Toccalino added two goals to his stat sheet, also converting a two-point scoring opportunity.

Commenting on the buildout of the U.S. Polo Assn. Coliseum at IPC, which is the new and long-term home for the sport at IPC, Escapite elaborated, “This is the first big arena for Gladiator here in Florida, which is really exciting and it played amazing. The players can be physical in this arena and it’s better than ever. It’s going to be a great venue for us this season.”

Escapite finished the evening with seven goals for a total eight points after converting the only two-point penalty of the match. His teammate Mike Azzaro netted three goals, while Bray added an additional four to hoist Team New York to the top of the four-team standings, tied with Team Palm Beach at one win a piece.

“The environment of the draft was awesome. It was really a cool concept to bring into the sport. I’m very glad to be a part of this and am lucky to have been able to win tonight,” he concluded.

The second game of the night saw Team Dublin (0-1) take on Team Palm Beach (1-0) in the second six chukker match of the evening, with Team Palm Beach rising to the occasion and securing the win on a final score of 12-8. Team Palm Beach drew the first overall draft pick of the season during the inaugural Gladiator Polo™ draft and selected the prolific player, Tommy Biddle, to lead their efforts during the season. Biddle scored two goals in the team’s debut game. Geronimo Obregon and Toro Ruiz supported Team Palm Beach’s strong showing, with Obregon recording three goals on the evening and Ruiz netting four.

“It was a pleasure playing with them and it really felt great with these guys tonight. The plan was for them to really work in the back and then I either cut off the back end or pick up the trash plays in front of the goal. They made the goals and they played great,” said Team Palm Beach’s Tommy Biddle. “It’s always our strategy that not everyone needs to go in offensively and that someone needs to stay back and that worked well for us tonight.”

As the first pick in the highly anticipated Gladiator Polo draft, Biddle felt a sense of pride, but also added weight on his need to perform well in the first game of the season for Team Palm Beach.

“I felt some pressure tonight going in to tonight. It was a tough thing to be picked first and being rated ten goals in the arena, I know that everyone is looking at that,” he explained. “Maybe it’s not all flash, but I wanted to be steady in setting up plays, but I was just happy the horses played well and we’ve put together a really good team.”

The game was closely paced through its entirety, as Team Palm Beach took an early lead in the first chukker and started the second chukker up 3-1. At half time, the game was tied at 6-6 before Team Palm Beach pulled away in the fifth chukker to make it 11-8 and sealed their victory with the only goal of the final period to end on a final score of 12-8. Toro Ruiz secured MVP honors for the match for Team Palm Beach.

“Hopefully we keep getting better and I can play better so we keep it up. It was really fun and we have a great team dynamic,” said Biddle.

Team Dublin represented by Gallego Ferrario, Tito Ruiz, and Nino Obregon came out strong and set the intense tone for the match. Ferrario capitalized in the first chukker with a single goal, while Obregon supported with four goals and a converted penalty.

To learn more about Gladiator Polo™, please visit www.gladiatorpolo.com.

Introducing the Hubside Spring Tour, a New Equestrian Oasis on the French Riviera

Photo: Sportfot / Jumping International de Valence.

Grimaud, France, March 18th, 2019 — This spring, the sparkling coastal town of Grimaud will play host to a major new event on the European horse show calendar: the HUBSIDE SPRING TOUR, presented by title sponsor Hubside and presenting sponsor SFAM. Two weeks of show jumping competition, the first running from the 17-21 of April, and the second the 25-28 of April, will include diverse offerings and multiple ranking classes for international riders from across Europe and beyond.

The event will take place at a newly renovated facility designed by event President Mr. Sadri Fegaier, a successful businessman and international show jumper. Week one will feature a range of CSI4*, CSI2* and CSIYH1* classes for professionals and amateurs, including four Longines ranking classes and a €100.000 Grand Prix. Week two will also include four Longines ranking classes, along with CSI2* and CSI4* classes, and a €150.000 Grand Prix.

Esteemed course designer Uliano Vezzani will create tracks for the HUBSIDE SPRING TOUR, with event direction provided by General Manager Denis Monticolo and Sports Director Eleonora Ottaviani. Located in the former Ecurie du Golfe de Saint-Tropez, the competition will be held in a brand new, sprawling 120 x 70 competition arena, accompanied by a 100 x 50 warm-up ring.

Helmed by its towering, 11th century castle and surrounded by lavender fields and rocky outcrops, the sun-drenched commune of Grimaud, in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, is a hidden gem of the French Riviera. Among the region’s highlights: the seaside town of Port Grimaud, less than three miles from the equestrian facilities. Known as the “Little Venice of Provence,” Port Grimaud is renowned for its glittering canals and brightly colored, fisherman-style houses.

In addition to the HUBSIDE SPRING TOUR, the city of Grimaud will host four, top-tier show jumping events throughout the 2019 year, including three international HUBSIDE JUMPING EVENTS in June, and the HUBSIDE FALL TOUR in late September.

The HUBSIDE SPRING TOUR will take place April 17-21, 2019 and April 25-28, 2019. For more information, please visit: www.facebook.com/HubsideJumping/.

Press contact: Blizko Communication
Daniel Koroloff – Mob.: +33(0)6 11 02 18 12 – Email: daniel@blizko-communication.com
Juliette Feytout – Mob.: +33 (0)7 50 39 37 40 – Email: juliette@blizko-communication.com

Henrik von Eckermann Becomes New Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender at Dutch Masters

Henrik von Eckermann (Photo: Ashley Neuhof / Rolex Grand Slam)

It was an afternoon of electrifying sporting drama at The Dutch Masters, with the world’s best horse and rider combinations taking to the arena in the Brabanthallen for the first Major of the year. Course Designer Louis Koninckx laid a tough course, which saw only five reach the jump-off to battle it out for the Rolex Grand Prix title.

Rolex Testimonee, Steve Guerdat (SUI), secured the first double clear, after producing a series of thrilling turns to shave seconds off the clock. Many thought he could not be caught but it was clear from the outset that Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann only had winning on his mind. Together with his 13-year-old bay mare, Toveks Mary Lou, the pair crossed the finish just 0.63 seconds faster than Guerdat to clinch the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix title and become the new Rolex Grand Slam live contender.

It was so close between you and Steve Guerdat; how did the jump-off feel for you?

It was great! I knew that Steve was very fast; he knocked three-seconds off Daniel (Deusser)’s time, so I thought to myself, I need to hurry up! There were only five in the jump-off, and it is nice when there are so few because then you don’t have so much competition to worry about. I just tried really hard. I wanted to win it; I gave my best effort to win it and here we are!

Toveks Mary Lou performed so well. What is she like to ride?

She always performs so well. She is so special. It’s like she knows what is going on; she thinks, ‘OK, it’s Sunday today; it’s the big day; I need to be the best I can be.’ She always tries that little bit extra for me and it makes her a fantastic horse.

You’re the new Rolex Grand Slam live contender. Is CHIO Aachen in your calendar?

Yes, it is absolutely. I really would like to go there. I am just so happy with what has happened today, and we will take it from here.

How are you going to celebrate?

I have to drive the lorry home with Mary Lou in the back and I am happy for that. My girlfriend Janika, the groom. and I will head home together smiling! But the feeling I have now is amazing and that is enough. I don’t think we have to do anything special.

Lastly, is The Dutch Masters a special show for you now?

Absolutely! I have ridden here quite a few times now and it is a fantastic event. Every year it gets better and better; they always try to make it more and more special. The atmosphere is always electric, and the crowd is always behind you.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Diego Perez Bilbao Victorious in $36,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI 3*

Diego Perez Bilbao and Helios. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – The tenth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) came to an end with a win for Spain’s Diego Perez Bilbao in the $36,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI 3* riding Helios.

Michel Vaillancourt (CAN) set the track for the $36,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI 3* and saw 13 horses advance to the jump-off from a starting field of 63. Bilbao took the win with a double-clear performance in 34.79 seconds, a full second faster than USA’s Katherine Dinan riding Tarioso Mancais for Grant Road Partners, LLC.

“He has all the talent in the world: super careful, so easy to ride, and really balanced. He could be a superstar,” said Perez Bilbao of Helios, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Couleur-Rubin x Grandeur) he owns in partnership with Adrienne Sternlicht’s Starlight Farms, LLC. “Sometimes his mind is not one of a fighter, but today after the second fence I knew he was fighting for me and we could take some risks.”

Alexa Elle Lignelli and Cassie Warren Split Children’s Hunter Younger Champion Title

On the final day of WEF Week 10, 31 young horse-and-rider combinations contested the course set in the FarmVet ring for the Children’s Hunter Younger division. Due to the high volume of entries, the division was divided into a California Split format, which allowed two young riders to be named champion and two more reserve. The first champion title was awarded to Cassie Warren and the second tricolor ribbon was given to Alexa Elle Lignelli.

Warren and Whipstick Farm, Ltd’s Capo Di Capi took top-three placings in four out of the five division classes to land on a total of 30 points for the section A champion ribbon.

Lignelli piloted the Piccolino Farm, LLC’s Pop Rocks to a first, a second, and two third places which secured them the second-highest total of 24 points.

For full results, please visit pbiec.coth.com.

The Audi Prize Brings Another Win for the Untouchable Dutch

Maikel van der Vleuten (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

It was another night of crowd-pleasing entertainment in the Brabanthallen, as Maikel van der Vleuten took the victory in the Audi Prize, the second Rolex Grand Prix qualifier. The Dutch maestro produced an uncatchable clear, in the time of 37.25 seconds, knocking over three seconds off the time set by last year’s Rolex Grand Prix winner, Niels Bruynseels (BEL).

That was a very fast round; how did the ride feel to you?

It was a tough competition, with strong riders, so I knew I had to go for it. Dana Blue is a very strong horse; she won yesterday and is naturally very, very quick and that’s the type of horse you need these days.

The Dutch team are taking all the top spots this week; what’s it like to win in front of the home crowd?

Performing in front of my home crowd certainly gives me even more motivation. So far, it’s going very well here. Tomorrow is the Rolex Grand Prix and I hope we can continue our winning streak, but it will be a very tough competition.

How will you be preparing for the Rolex Grand Prix?

We will stick to our normal routine. I will make sure my horse (Verdi TN) is in good shape; yesterday he jumped very well in the big class; he was double clear. Today I gave him a bit of an easy day so I am hoping he will be very fresh tomorrow!

Who do you think your biggest competition is?

There are so many riders, it’s hard to say. That’s the thing – it’s always exciting in our sport because out of the 40 riders you have at least 25 combinations who can give it a serious go!

Now that The Dutch Masters is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, has the event been enhanced?

Yes, I think it is a really good thing that this show is now one of the Majors. It is so important, being such a horse country, that we have a world-class event like this in Holland. It’s great for the Dutch people.

© 2019 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam